« AnkstesnisTęsti »
frescoes on wall and ceiling and thick groined arch, the huge porcelain stoves in emerald and amethyst, the cut stone staircases, the balustrades of carved and painted wood, the newel-posts in the shape of wooden lions, with lolling tongues and popping eyes, the wooden candelabra with their blossoms and their eagles. Alexis' desk still stands under his study window, and his beautiful Chinese bed still holds the place of honor in that room which no one was allowed to enter save one trusted servitor. For the emperor had a wholesome fear of the evil eye. Now the room is filled with excursionists from schools and orphanages and factories, and smells of old sheepskins and wet leather.
The queen's reception-room, which is wholly stained with gold, from the walls and ceilings to the supporting beams or "bowstrings," is in another part of the palace, and older than Alexis' rooms. It is an ill lit place, but one fancies it aglimmer with candles and brilliant with silken brocades on those Easter mornings when the royal family assembled there with the patriarch, and kissed, and murmured, "Christ is risen." The largest room in the old structure is the Granovitaya Palata, which was built by the command of Ivan III's Byzantine princess, who had no love for the close tiny chambers of the Russian family into which she had married. The walls are covered with frescoes, representing God's services to the czars, which seem to have been many; and three golden thrones still stand under a handsome canopy of carved wood, inlaid with exquisite medallions. It was here that the czar received the foreign
ambassadors, keeping a basin beside him to wash from his hands the kiss of the unorthodox. It was here that the patriarchs were ordained. Here Ivan the Terrible celebrated the conquest of Kazan, and here Peter the Great celebrated the victory of Poltava. Here Catharine opened the commission for her new code of laws, and it was amid this spacious splendor that the solemn dinner was held after the coronation of the czar; the czarina and the young princes feasting in the seclusion of the balcony above. There is yet another place in the city where one can see a seventeenth-century Russian interior. It is the palace where the first Romanov is reputed to have been born. A monastery is attached to it, and the blue-walled chapel sits like a pale hermit (cleaner than most) in a sky-colored robe on the edge of Moscow's traffic.
In the course of time the apartments of the early Romanovs in the Kremlin were in a measure superseded by more spacious structures. The "big palace" built under Nicholas I has replaced all the old buildings except the modest rooms of Alexis, which it incases. It is a sumptuous affair of long halls, each dedicated to its special saint, and made impressively ugly with ornate pillars and elaborate cornices.
It is in the Hall of St. George that the ironic Fate who is mistress of the city has one of her several establishments. This is a beautifully proportioned place, all white plaster and bright gold, with handsome inlaid floors. Its decorations are ugly, in a heavy rococo fashion, but it has its dignity too. St. George is a favorite with the Russians, and some of
the finest fifteenth-century icons represent the small armored figure on a black horse charging his firebreathing adversary. There are repeated representations of him on these walls, whose marble slabs are engraved with the names of those who were decorated with his order. It is the obvious setting for a formal state function. It is at present the setting for the two hundred red and black wreaths which were the last tribute to Lenin. Down the length of the room, at the base of the double row of columns, and all around the walls, the stiff red flowers and black ribbons repeat themselves monotonously. Down the length of the great hall and up again, a row of crude portraits of Lenin render the slightly Mongol features and bald forehead with the same faithfulness to canon that the icon-masters used in depicting St. George. Some of the wreaths are a contribution to the new esthetics, created as they are out of the materials which the workers had at hand. There are mourning mottoes made of cotton wadding from the cotton-mills, of straw from the wicker factory; there is a wreath of motor parts from the motorworks, a wreath of steel bolts and the blades of bayonets from the arms factory. These memorials, fashioned by common people of machine-made objects, body forth present-day Russia as vividly as the dark-visaged, jewel-incrusted icons in Alexis' chapel manifest the dispossessed past. That these proletarian wreaths should be housed in such a royal room only sharpens the contrast between the body of the old Moscow and the spirit of the new Moscow which so restlessly abides therein.
From St. George's Hall you pass through St. Alexander's into a third, more gorgeous, more glittering, and more grotesque. This is the throneroom. Its immense columns are thickly gilded except for the black double eagles screaming over them. Its great gilt chandeliers are ornamented with the double-headed birds in gold. Above the platform for the thrones a slab of bright gold, emanating golden rays, holds a single golden eye which stares down over the long high gold-incrusted hall. Along the walls at a great height are small medallions bearing the devices of the Russian provinces, the only really lovely things in the big gaudy place. The thrones have been removed from the platform, and the All-Seeing Eye shines above the portrait of Lenin and an assemblage of heavy red banners. Facing the Eye, at the far rear end of the grand rich room, hangs, a little crookedly, a cheap print of Karl Marx. The throneroom of the Romanovs has become the session-chamber of the Communist International. Through the doorway, in the passage that leads from the new palace to the old, are visible the plain board tables at which the delegates eat their cabbage soup and black bread.
One need not go within the gates of the Kremlin to realize with what old and incongruous furniture history has set the scene upon which this parentless era has come. One must stand in the Red Square (in old Russian, red is synonymous with glorious, beautiful), at the Gate of Our Saviour, just outside the high brick wall, four centuries old. Its swallowtail battlements, built by
Italian masters, are even as those that overlook the Roman amphitheater of Verona, but the roofs that protect its towers from the snow are in the native style.
To the right rises the party-colored mass of St. Basil's. The church is rooted in the misshapen cobbles of the square like a fabulous bush with bulbous leaves of yellow and blue and green and red. The barbarism of its colors and the awkwardness of its proportions are to the lovely dignity of a basilica as a mountain is to a tower. And like the mountain it is heavy, even to its great Russian crosses, with their enlacing chains, so unlike the tenuous crosses of the cathedrals of the West. Its narrow steps, trodden into hollows, lead up into high dark painted chapels connected by complicated passages as in a prison. Insistent as an odor, there hangs about these grim yet elegant caverns the memory of Ivan the Terrible's devotions. The church was built under that czar as a memorial of his conquest of Kazan and Astrakhan with money taken from the Tartars. It symbolizes sixteenth-century Russia as the tiny heavily buttressed Church of Our Saviour in the Forest, within the Kremlin, suggests the feudal Muscovite principality, and as the huge ivory-toned pile of the Church of Christ the Saviour embodies the Russia of the emperors.
A few paces away from St. Basil's is a round stone platform, the Place of the Skull, from which the czar's heralds read ukases to his people in the days when the Red Square was Moscow's forum, the place where his executioners did their work. At the base of Kremlin wall the graves of
"those who died for socialism" are kept green until the snows. The latest of these graves is the small, cubical, lead-colored house, guarded by soldiers with guns across their shoulders-Lenin's tomb. Beside it stands a huge rough statue of a working-man waving the kind of cap that Lenin affected. Opposite, on the other side of the square, is the old bronze statue of the butcher and the prince who saved Russia in the Time of the Troubles that preceded the election of the first Romanov.
Over the Gate of Our Saviour rises one of the most beautiful of the Kremlin towers, with an ancient clock wrought by a foreign master, which is now officially known as the Clock of the Third International. Above the gate the icon still hangs. The glass is broken and the lamp extinguished, but the holy image remains. The Latin inscription which says that the gate was built by a Milanese master, one Antonio Solario, was interpreted by the Russians who had no Latin to be a curse on him who passed without baring his head. To this day simple folk doff their hats as they pass by. Three hundred years ago there was a moat around the Kremlin, and the bridge across it which led to this gate was the haunt of unemployed priests, who waited to be hired by rich men with private chapels. They bargained with the priests then, as one does with the droshky drivers now, and the priest who wanted to close a bargain would draw a wheat loaf from his breast and threaten to take a bite, whereupon his hirer would make a hasty agreement, for a priest. who had just eaten could not serve
The arch of the Gate of Our Saviour, paneled with flowered murals, green and blue and yellow and red, scarcely faded by the centuries, is just wide enough for a heavy wagon. The road is paved with cobbles, beaten into ridges and hollows. Over these cobbles, under this arch, with the speed and the shriek of a fire-engine, an army motor-truck flings its loud enormous body. Under this arch, over these cobbles, rattles a droshky, looking as though it had rolled out of an eighteenth-century picture-book. The driver wears a long wide-skirted coat, accordion-pleated at the hips, and a belt of gay embroidery. He rattles briskly through the gate. A pedestrian comes next. But he does not pass. He is a peasant, in one of those curious garments that have been patched so often that there seems to be no thread of the original stuff left in them. His beard is ragged too. His broad dull face is the same color as his woolen cap. He stands outside, his clumsy headgear in his hand, crossing himself and muttering a prayer. Three times he makes the sign of the cross, and shambles off across the muddy square.
There is the noise of horses' hoofs on the cobbles now; many horses, in double file, moving toward the gate, under the great wall, moving up to the gate, over the old cobbles, and under the old arch. The horsemen are in khaki, with the peaked caps of the Red army, and each carries at his side a long Cossack lance in rest, one end strapped to his boot and one clutched in his hand. There is a tinkle of little bells. Carried in the hand of one horseman, like an icon, a tiny golden tower with jingling
Facing the majesty of Kremlin wall stands a row of dowdy stores, descendants of the shops of the old Cathay Town, of which the Red Square used to be the center. Although the commercial activities of Moscow are widely scattered over the city, the considerable remains of Cathay Town's ancient wall still inclose a congeries of shops, banks, and offices. Already in the fourteenth century the Chinese City crouched east of the Kremlin, like a feudal town at the foot of a fortress. By the time of Ivan the Terrible it had become a trade-mart where Persians, Bokharans, Swedes, Greeks and Britons mixed with the native merchants. Its streets were named for the wares that were sold on them: gold and candles, nuts and caftans, honey and fish. On Lice Street they sold second-hand clothing, and barbers stood about on muddy corners, ready to part men from their hair and their head-lice at once. It was a place of wine-shops and bawdyhouses, and its ways were filled with as motley a crowd as ever moved through a medieval town. Strolling players passed through the gates, girls called from the doorways, a lit
tle group of men would go by, carrying a corpse to the morgue or a sick man to his house. Prisoners moved along these lanes, asking alms, their cries punctuated by the sound of chimes from wooden belfries. And sometimes the passers-by would kneel bareheaded, as the priests filed past with banners, bearing a miracleworking icon.
At present, the new economic order has wrought great changes in this section of the city. The names of private dealers upon the signboards have been largely replaced by weird combinations of syllables which when decoded, resolve themselves into the names of state syndicates and coöperative agencies. Here the Red merchant is the cock of the walk. The street known as the Smiths' Bridge (Kuznetzky Most) is another of Moscow's business centers, lying beyond the confines of the old Cathay Town. This street has been famous for fashion since Catharine's day, and is so still, with its alternating smart hat shops and jewelry stores. The portrait of Lenin, decorated with black and red streamers, is to be seen in most of the show windows, and outside stand beggars in sacking and peddlers with peasant handicraft for sale, looking neither modish nor contemporary, but rather as though they had been translated here from an old print.
relics of the past, and more especially of course, those that have to do with the revolution. The old collections are intact; and the efforts of the staff are severely taxed by the large accessions due to the nationalization of private collections. The ubiquitous lady with a Baedeker is not to be seen in the galleries of Moscow. One sees mostly groups of tattered children and seedy factory hands, shepherded by a lecturer with a school-teacher's manner. Visiting the Tretyakov Gallery, the best museum of Russian art in the city, the week after Lenin's funeral, I found in the lobby half a dozen miners from the Don Basin, who had represented their union at the obsequies, and were come to see what they could see. I discovered them later standing in pleased contemplation of a canvas representing men at work in a mine. They were evidently surprised to find that an artist would consider them as a subject. Not far away a group of Tartars was listening to an exposition of one of the historical paintings in which the Tretyakov Gallery abounds.
One is apt to encounter a more sophisticated public in the two small Museums of Western Art. You have no sooner entered the first of these, yielded your arctics to the peasant woman at the door, and climbed up to the landing, than a brick-colored mural by Matisse at once takes you out of Moscow; as far away from its churches and its snows and its Communist academies as if you had fled to another world. A world of the blue and yellow and lavender lights in which Monet drowned his Paris, a world of the breathless gestures to which Degas's